For Erin Pangburn, teaching wasn’t a career she thought she’d pursue growing up.
After all, she didn’t enjoy school.
In college, though, she realized that she had the ability to make school enjoyable for kids like her.
After graduating from the University of Illinois in 2000 with a degree in elementary education, the Tuscola native was hired for her first job in what is now the Salt Fork school district, where she’s still a fourth-grade teacher at Salt Fork South Elementary School in Sidell.
“Mrs. Pangburn has been one of the backbones of the elementary school for many years, and her expertise in working with students is unmatched,” Principal Brian Allensworth said.
“She is someone all staff can turn to for advice and for the right approach in how to get the most out of students. She has a passion for working with students, and it shows every time you walk into her room.”
I find my work important because … there are so many kids out there who need stability and love. My students know I will be there every single day with a smile on my face!
I became a teacher because … I actually hated school growing up. While I loved working with children, teaching was never on my radar until after I started college. I realized I could combine my love for kids with my experiences in the classroom growing up and become a teacher who could help students like me.
My favorite/most unique lesson that I teach is … My ultimate goal is to help my students realize school work can be challenging, but effort and attitude can have a positive effect on any difficult task. All year, we discuss and implement strategies that can help us be successful when a situation is difficult. It is easy to complain or play the victim when challenges present themselves, so it is important to know how to overcome those adversities.
My most fulfilling moments on the job are when … Teaching provides the opportunity for many great moments, but my favorite part is the relationships you are able to create with students.
I keep students engaged by … allowing them to have a voice and a role in our daily activities. When students help make decisions in the classroom, they are eager to participate and stay on task.
Something else I’m passionate about is … family, reading, gardening and watching my daughter play her favorite sports.
My favorite teacher and subject to study in school was … Mrs. Taylor at North Ward Elementary in Tuscola. She made you feel that she loved her job and was happy to see you walk through the door every day. My favorite subject was math.
If I weren’t a teacher, I would be … a flight attendant, so I could travel the world!
— ANTHONY ZILIS